New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday said that "suitability" of a candidate cleared by the collegium for appointment as a judge in a constitutional court cannot be a subject of judicial review. The court highlighted this while pronouncing reasons for dismissing petitions that claimed advocate Victoria Gowri is ineligible for appointment as a Madras High Court judge.
"We have gone through the constitution bench judgements which said that we cannot get into suitability of the candidate," said Justice Sanjiv Khanna, who headed the special bench also comprising Justice B.R. Gavai.
“We have a fairly robust scrutiny process.." Court
On February 7, the constitution bench had declined to entertain the petitions filed by senior advocate R. Vaigai and Anna Mathew, represented by advocate Sanchita Ain, and had said that it would pronounce the reasons for the dismissal later. By the time the apex court finished hearing the case, Gowri had taken oath as an additional judge of the high court.
“We have a fairly robust scrutiny process. Let us not interfere with that… Assuming that the collegium did not take everything into account may not be proper… We cannot go into the question of her suitability. We cannot direct the collegium to reconsider. This is the case of an additional judge. Her confirmation as a permanent judge is further down… So, we will see. I don’t think we will be able to pass any orders at this stage,” Justice Khanna had said.
The bench's refusal to look into the case had left the question whether the collegium was fully informed about Gowri unanswered. This was despite Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud's statement in open court on February 6 that the collegium was considering the “developments” raised in a letter addressed to it by a group of 21 Madras High Court lawyers on February 1. The letter highlighted that Gowri had made public utterances on social media that amounted to “hate speech, pure and simple, against minority communities” and was ineligible to take oath as a high court judge.
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